Planting by the signs

Making changes

With the moon moving to the dark phase later Friday through June 12, it's a nice stretch for making changes — although not as many perfect days as May’s nine.

Changes might include stopping smoking, beginning a diet or exercise program, scheduling elective surgery, weaning small animals or children — anything that requires a change.

The moon is in the dark phase and the signs are going out of the body beyond anything that functions: Capricorn/knees through Pisces/feet.

How about a late garden?

Most every week on Tuesdays when I do our shopping at Kroger West, my longtime friend Dennis “Doc” Martin is prepping baskets in the foyer. Dennis is a gardener and inevitably our socially-distanced conversation turns to gardening.

Earlier in the spring, I shared Dennis’ experience in gardens past that resulted from planting in wet soil. His conclusion: “Don’t do it or you’ll pay all summer!”

For a few more weeks as the cold, wet weather continued, Dennis reported progress in his garden was slow because it was either too wet, too cold — or a combination of both punctuated by unprecedented cold snaps and one of the coldest Mays on record.

Thus, Dennis opined: “I think I’m going to start waiting until Memorial Day to plant!”

And there’s great wisdom to that.

Unfortunately, each year lots of people just get really pumped with the occasional warm spells in March — sometimes even late February. Maybe you’ve been one of them — I know I certainly have. This year, particularly, when we weren’t supposed to go anywhere that resulted in us doing one thing we could do — garden!

I’m not going to review the challenges with an early garden — we’ll get to that early in 2021. Instead, here are reasons for a late garden, beginning with an oft-repeated testimonial.

One of the best gardens I ever had wasn’t started until June 21 and one summer in the early 1980s on the only piece of ground a garden could be planted on a 20-acre farm we owned out in God’s country — Bald Knob!

It thrived and produced abundantly. In part, here’s why: the danger of frosts and freezes was gone; when it rained, the ground dried quickly without hanging around wet and getting cloddy; the weeds that quickly made their appearance shaded the plants from the scorching days … on and on.

All that to say, there’s still time to plant a garden if you haven’t done the first thing. Garden centers I’ve visited recently still have plenty of plants — something that wasn’t so in the early ‘80s when I finally scared up a few discounted tomato plants at a little market on Holmes Street.

The ground is dry enough to cultivate, or better yet, nail together boards and throw up a raised bed, pour in a good planting mixture like Miracle-Gro, sow some seeds or set out some plants and they’ll simply take off since the ground has now had time to warm.

All, of course, in the right phase of the moon and sign of the zodiac! Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

Pouring gravel: Unless you got it done early Friday morning, you can forget spreading gravel on a drive or road on your farm until the light moon returns at 12:44 a.m. July 5. The same applies for stones on a garden path: Place them when the moon is in the light phase, so they don’t sink. If you’re setting fence posts, do that in the light phase of the moon so the posts don’t sink.

Beginning Friday afternoon and for most of the next two weeks, the dark moon is in force and if you pour gravel during this stretch please tell it “goodbye” because over time it’s going to sink into the earth.

As a late friend used to say, “would you believe me if I was to tell you …” that I know that from experience, not something someone told me!

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